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SF in Granta? Believe it.

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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 06:16 am:   

Recently, Granta 82: Life's Like That, arrived in my mailbox, and as I usually do, I leafed through the little literary magazine to give titles, author names, and the occasional picture a chance to leap out and grab me by the eyeball. It's the same sort of pre-reading browse I apply to my F&SF, Asimov's, and Analog magazines, as necessary to me as catching the trailers before watching a movie.

What leaped out at me this time, however, almost made me check the cover of the magazine to ensure myself I hadn't picked up two mags at once. It was an interior illustration which might have come straight off the cover of Analog: a foregrounded earth-like planet and an eclipsed sun. The story had the promising title, "Anubis." And the first paragraph began with "Here in space you don't get the chance to meet women..."

Science Fiction? In Granta? Naw...

I naturally suspected some trick. "I'm going to get into this story," I told myself, "only to be bushwhacked by some hip scion of the PoMo trying to demonstrate his cultivated disdain for the scrappier genres." I flipped the pages with narrowed eyes. "He's going to reveal at the end that it was all the deluded daydream of some Trekkie on a bender," I thought with a shake of my head. I read on with caution.

But I was wrong. Paul Murray's "Anubis" really IS a Science Fiction story. The plot isn't wonderful, but it works. The PoV character is quite well-drawn and the prose and dialogue are engaging. It's a story that's been told before, but that's never been a true obstacle to SF in the past. And I seemed to find inconsistencies I think a seasoned SF editor would have caught. But all in all, I liked it well enough.

All the time I was reading it, though, I kept having that strange feeling of dislocation, like I'd walked into a lecture hall and interrupted a nude game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. SF in Granta? What's next? Beenie-Weenies at Delmonico's? Then again, I like Beenie-Weenies. And I like Science Fiction even more. So, here's to Granta.

Just thought I'd toss this out for the benefit of those who have concerns about generic exclusivity and whatnot. Or to those who suspect there's been a conspiracy to keep SF in its place. Perhaps this is indicative of a new trend? I rather think not, but one can hope. And at the very least, this proves at least one "little magazine" is amenable to the (very) occasional SF submission.
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Cheryl Morgan
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 08:19 am:   

So were there any talking squid in the story?
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 08:31 am:   

Well, not exactly, but one character claims to have been born underwater, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility that he might know some talking squid.
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JV
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 08:49 am:   

I feel somewhat...misunderstood.
JeffV
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 09:45 am:   

On the other hand, one of the characters, a gray-haired woman with a unibrow and a perpetual frown, might very well be Margaret Atwood. If this is true, it would explain the absence of actual talking squid.
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Cheryl Morgan
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 10:49 am:   

Oh good, I'm glad we've got that sorted out. You had me worried there for a moment. Not quite in the "Cubs v RedSox in World series" mode, but all the same...

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